There are not many athletes in mixed martial arts who have had a better last 12 months than that of Belfast’s Leah McCourt.
On the 23rd of February 2019, at Bellator Dublin, McCourt featured in a preliminary fight against Hatice Özyurt, a match-up that she won via doctors stoppage at the end of round one.
Just 364 days later, once more in front of a Dublin crowd, McCourt made history in her bout with Judith Ruis, as they became the first two women ever to headline a major European MMA event.
The women found themselves promoted to the card’s headline bout after Dublin’s own James Gallagher was forced out of his main event fight with Cal Ellenor, due to a back injury.
In the fight, Ruis was close to causing an major upset at the end of the first round, when she caught McCourt in an armbar that seemed to be locked in tight.
However, McCourt pulled off this incredible reversal which landed her in top position and turned the tides in the fight.
McCourt was not one to leave the Irish fans disappointed in the 3Arena that night, as she went on to defeat Ruis via unanimous decision, improving her record to 4-1.
Just short of three months later, McCourt was due to fight at Bellator London, a card that was headlined by Gallagher vs Ellenor and was also set to feature the debut of the former England rugby star James Haskell.
On the 30th of March, Bellator officially announced that the May 16th card had been postponed due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic and that it will be rescheduled for a later date.
McCourt was due to face New Zealand’s Janay Harding on the main card in London, a fight that she would still like to be made in the future.
After the President of Bellator MMA, Scott Coker, announced the promotion are looking to set up some events for July, ‘The Curse’ has her eyes set on a return that may see her fight overseas.
Down the line, McCourt has said she feels a match-up with the current featherweight champion Cris Cyborg will happen, a fight that Cyborg is very open to.
The former IMMAF champion has recently been working alongside Sky Sports to create ‘home workout’ videos for the public to watch on social media.
News broke yesterday morning that Sky Sports and Bellator MMA have formed a partnership to air replays of the 2018 Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament.
The new series titled ‘Bellator MMA Recharged’ will be starting this Saturday, May the 9th, at 10 p.m. BST on Sky Sports Action.
With Sky Sports already promoting McCourt online, could we see her becoming the new face of the European MMA scene in the coming months?
See what she had to say in the video above.